IMELDA Marcos was known for having an “edifice complex,” a reference for her fondness for major building projects like the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Folk Arts Theater, the Manila Film Center, and the Coconut Palace. In comparison, Joseph Estrada’s construction obsession hit closer to home: he loved lavishly appointed abodes, and he apparently wanted to make sure as many of his family members would have one of their own, and in the poshest addresses in town.
What is interesting is that many of the choice pieces of land later linked to him or his families were bought during the first two years of his presidency, which was also when construction began on some of the grandest homes. On paper the owners of such properties appeared to be companies belonging to friends of Estrada. But it was the then president or one of his wives who would be seen either living in the homes or visiting the properties, sometimes even during construction. By our calculations, the properties in question were worth nearly P2 billion.